High Divide – Seven Lakes Basin Loop* (Olympic)

High Divide - 7 Lakes Basin (29)

Date: 06/05/2015

Location: Sol Duc Hot Spring

Distance: 19 miles (Loop)

Elevation Gain: 4000 feet

Highest Point: 5370 ft

Time: 10 hours

Sol Duc Fall

Sol Duc Fall

Much thought and trepidation have been given to take on this herculean trail due to its distance and elevation and the logistic of getting to TH with the pricey and popular Sol Duc Hot Spring Resort as the only nearby lodging. All that changed with the record low snow pack of ’14-’15 winter, suddenly the trail, normally snow clogged well into July, was cleared of it by Memorial Day, way before ONP’s peak tourist season. It’s rubber hits the road for me on this sunny first weekend of June.

High Divide - 7 Lakes Basin (2)

Mile 1 to 5  Getting There

“There” is the crest of High Divide Trail. Admission to this paradise cost 3000 + ft of vertical gain over 5 miles through mostly mundane canopied trail, though Sol Duc Fall at mile 1 and Deer Lake at mile 3 provided brief distracton.  BTW, this was the counterclockwise approach.

Deer Lake

Deer Lake

after 4 miles trail broke into open meadows

after 4 miles trail broke into open meadows

Crest of High Divide reached at 5 mile

Crest of High Divide reached at 5 mile

Mile 6 Should I have Lunch at Lunch Lake?

With view improving constantly and grade lessening, Seven Lake Basin junction was reached.  A quick detour affords the stunning view of Round and Lunch Lakes several hundred feet below.  I could not resist the seductive Lunch Lake, and plunged to lake side.  Unfortunately, hordes of mosquitos interrupted my time by the water, and the steep ascend back to main trail was the toughest stretch of my journey.  Moral lesson?  Lunch Lake visit demands a nice leisurely lunch on site to be worthy of the effort.

Round Lake

Round Lake

Lunch Lake

Lunch Lake

Lunch Lake Shore

Lunch Lake Shore

Mile 7 Unveiling of Mt. Olympus

It’s only natural after a hard climb out of Lunch Lake that the main trail decides to gain big elevation too.  Between huffs and puffs, glimpse of the majestic Mt. Olympus massif eased my physical toil slightly.

First glimpse of Mt. Olympus

First glimpse of Mt. Olympus

From Bogachiel Peak, looking North towards 7 Lakes Basin

From Bogachiel Peak, looking North towards 7 Lakes Basin

From Bogachiel Peak, looking South at Mt. Olympus and Hoh River Valley

From Bogachiel Peak, looking South at Mt. Olympus and Hoh River Valley

Mile 8-10 Ridge Supreme

The trail is now flanked by tree lined, meadowy, lake dotted Seven Lake Basin to North and the distant snow capped Mt. Olympus and Hoh River Southward.  Visual euphoria, aka Hiker’s high, ensued.

Trail now heading East along the ridge with wonderful views both sides

Trail now heading East along the ridge with wonderful views both sides

High Divide - 7 Lakes Basin (24)

Mt. Olympus to South

Mt. Olympus to South

Seven Lake Basin to North

Seven Lake Basin to North

Looking back at Bogachiel Peak and 7 Lake Basin

Looking back at Bogachiel Peak and 7 Lake Basin

This is the best section of High Divide

This is the best section of High Divide

Heart Lake at mile 10

Heart Lake at mile 10

from shore of Heart Lake looking back at the Ridge

from shore of Heart Lake looking back at the Ridge

Mile 11-19 Purgatory 

It’d be quite unfair to characterize rest of the trail as drags; however, with the exhaustive highs, this section was the fitting lows.  The usually pleasant downhill tree lined trail morphed into an insufferable endless treadmill.

One of 1/2 dozen foot bridge on return

One of 1/2 dozen foot bridge on return

3 thoughts on “High Divide – Seven Lakes Basin Loop* (Olympic)

  1. Beyond Walking

    Nice report. I’m heading to ONP (and North Cascades) in late July and am completely overwhelmed by my options. It’s helpful to read recent reports. The middle of this hike sounds great, but the “purgatory” section sounds a lot like sections of Shenandoah that just keep going… and while I like Shenandoah, it’s just that type of hike I try to find something different from by heading out west.

    Like

    Reply
    1. whazarook Post author

      Thanks. Since you are visiting NCNP, I would emphasize the unique coastal and rain forest trails in ONP. NCNP has some world class alpine day trails that are easier physically and just as stunning visually, e.g., Cascade Pass/Sahale Arm, Maple/Heather Pass Loop and Hidden Lake Lookout to name a few. They are all detailed in my blog’s North Cascades/Mt. Baker section.

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s